Police-reported hate crime, 2017
After steady but relatively small increases since 2014, police-reported hate crime in Canada rose sharply in 2017, up 47% over the previous year, and largely the result of an increase in hate-related property crimes, such as graffiti and vandalism. For the year, police reported 2,073 hate crimes, 664 more than in 2016. Higher numbers were seen across most types of hate crime, with incidents targeting the Muslim, Jewish, and Black populations accounting for most of the national increase. These increases were largely in Ontario and Quebec.
Police-reported hate crimes refer to criminal incidents that, upon investigation by police, are found to have been motivated by hatred toward an identifiable group. An incident may be against a person or property and may target race, colour, national or ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, language, sex, age, mental or physical disability, among other factors. In addition, there are four specific offences listed as hate propaganda offences or hate crimes in the Criminal Code of Canada: advocating genocide, public incitement of hatred, willful promotion of hatred, and mischief motivated by hate in relation to property used by an identifiable group.
Canada's population has become more diverse as the proportion of Canadians who report being foreign-born, non-Christian, or gay, lesbian, bisexual or in a same-sex relationship continues to grow. For example, one-fifth of Canada's population was foreign-born in 2016 and, by 2036, this could range from 24.5% to 30.0%.
Since comparable data became available in 2009, the number of police-reported hate crime has ranged from a low of 1,167 incidents in 2013 to a high of 2,073 in 2017. Despite the large increase, hate crimes in 2017 represented a small proportion of overall crime at 0.1% of the more than 1.9 million non-traffic crimes reported by police services that year.
Police data on hate-motivated crimes include only those incidents that come to the attention of police services and also depend on police services' level of expertise in identifying crimes motivated by hate. As a result, an increase in numbers may be related to more reporting by the public (for example, as a result of outreach by police to communities or heightened sensitivity after high profile events), and/or a result of an actual increase in the extent of hate crimes being committed. As with other crimes, self-reported data provide another way of monitoring hate-motivated crimes. According to the 2014 General Social Survey on Canadians' Safety (Victimization), Canadians self-reported being the victim of over 330,000 criminal incidents that they perceived as being motivated by hate (5% of total self-reported incidents). Two-thirds of these incidents were not reported to the police.
In an effort to try to address the under-reporting of hate crimes, a growing number of non-governmental organizations are developing innovative methods to encourage the reporting of hate. In 2017, for example, the Alberta Hate Crimes Committee launched the StopHateAB.ca website to encourage reporting of hate incidents in order to support strategies that foster a public social environment of justice, equity, and human rights.
The national trend driven by more reported hate crimes in Ontario and Quebec
Among the provinces, the greatest increase in the overall number of police-reported hate crimes was observed in Ontario, Canada's most populous province, where incidents rose from 612 in 2016 to 1,023 in 2017 (+67%). This increase was largely tied to more hate crimes targeting the Muslim (+207%), Black (+84%) and Jewish (+41%) populations.
Quebec reported a 50% increase in hate crimes, rising from 327 to 489. The increase was the result of crimes against the Muslim population, which almost tripled from 41 in 2016 to 117 in 2017. Reports of hate crimes against Muslims peaked in February, the month following the mass shooting at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Québec, and accounted for 26% of Quebec's annual reported incidents targeting Muslims.
Increases in hate crimes were also reported in Alberta and British Columbia.
Increases in 2017 due to more non-violent hate crimes
Non-violent crimes played a bigger role in the overall increase in hate crimes than did violent crimes. The increase in non-violent hate crimes was driven primarily by a 65% rise in mischief-related offences, from 598 in 2016 to 985 in 2017. For the year, non-violent hate crimes, which include offences such as mischief or public incitement of hatred, increased 64%, while violent hate crimes grew by 25%. The rise in violent hate crimes was the result of more incidents of uttering threats from 2016 to 2017 (+63%).
Overall in 2017, 38% of hate crimes were violent, down from 44% in 2016.
Hate crimes targeting Black and Arab or West Asian populations increase
In 2017, 43% of all police-reported hate crime was motivated by hatred of a race or ethnicity. That year, police reported 878 crimes motivated by hatred of a race or ethnicity, up 32% from the previous year. This increase was the result of 107 more hate crimes targeting the Black population (+50%) and 30 more incidents targeting Arab or West Asian populations (+27%).
Hate crimes targeting the Black population accounted for 16% of all hate crimes in Canada, and remained the most common type of race or ethnicity related hate crime.
Ontario (+89 incidents) and British Columbia (+11) accounted for much of the increase in the number of crimes against the Black population.
The increase in hate crimes against the Arab or West Asian population largely occurred in Alberta, where 15 more hate crimes targeting this population were reported (up from 15 incidents in 2016, to 30 in 2017).
Incidents against Indigenous peoples—including those who are First Nations, Métis, or Inuit—continued to account for a relatively small proportion of police-reported hate crimes (2%). There were 31 incidents targeting Indigenous peoples in 2017, compared with 30 in 2016.
Hate crimes targeting religion up by more than 80%
Hate crimes against religion accounted for 41% of all hate crime in Canada in 2017 and the number of such hate crimes was up significantly from 2016. There were 842 hate crimes targeting religious groups in 2017, up 83% from the previous year.
Increases were seen across all categories of religion, with those against the Muslim population reporting the greatest rise. Following a decrease in hate crimes against the Muslim population in 2016, numbers more than doubled in 2017 (+151%). There were 349 such incidents, 210 more than in 2016. The increase in police-reported hate crimes against the Muslim population was the result of additional reported incidents in Ontario (+124) and Quebec (+76). Hate crimes targeting the Muslim population accounted for 17% of all hate crimes in Canada.
Hate crimes against the Jewish population increased for the second consecutive year, rising from 221 in 2016 to 360 in 2017. Hate crimes targeting the Jewish population accounted for 18% of all hate crimes in Canada. Ontario reported 61 more incidents, while British Columbia reported an increase of 54 over 2016.
Hate crimes against Catholics and other religions also increased from 2016 to 2017.
Increase in hate crimes targeting sexual orientation
Hate crimes targeting sexual orientation accounted for 10% of all police-reported hate crimes in 2017, rising from 176 incidents in 2016 to 204 in 2017, marking a second consecutive annual increase. The national change was largely the result of more incidents in Ontario (+38) and Quebec (+15). Those were offset somewhat by 18 fewer incidents in British Columbia.
As has been seen in previous years, violent crimes accounted for a higher proportion of crimes targeting sexual orientation when compared with other types of hate crimes. While this was still true in 2017, there was a notable increase in mischief offences targeting sexual orientation and fewer crimes with violence. As a result, in 2017, 53% of hate crimes motivated by hatred of the victim's sexual orientation were violent crimes, down from 71% in 2016. By comparison, in 2017, 24% of hate crimes targeting religion and 47% targeting ethnicity were violent.
Note to readers
Police-reported hate crime data have been collected on an annual basis since 2006 and since 2010, data on motivations are reported by police services that cover 99% of the population of Canada.
Detailed characteristics of incidents, victims and accused persons are reported by municipal and provincial police services as well as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) covering 97% of the Canadian population, and exclude a small number of police services that do not report to the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (version 2.2). Saint John police service is excluded from any counts involving detailed characteristics, due to poor data quality. However, included are any counts that occurred within the Saint John police service jurisdiction that were investigated by the RCMP.
Police determine whether or not a crime was motivated by hatred and indicate the type of motivation based on information gathered during the investigation and common national guidelines for record classification. Fluctuations in the annual number of incidents can be influenced by changes in local police service practices and community involvement, as well as the willingness of victims to report incidents to police. The number of hate crimes presented in this release likely undercounts the true extent of hate crime in Canada, as not all crimes are reported to police.
Data on hate crime for 2017 are now available upon request for police services across Canada reporting to the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.
The infographic "Infographic: Police-reported hate crime in Canada, 2017" (11-627-M) is now available.
For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).
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